Computer Knows Best
Kevin Cheng  

Computer Knows Best

April 21st, 2005 by Kevin Cheng :: 8 Comments

I could spend time talking about in car navigation but I feel like we’ve [done that][1] to some degree. So instead, I’ll talk about iVan’s mention of “Computer Knows Best”.

Several months ago, I was at a clothing store buying some clothes, as one is prone to do in clothing stores. At the cashier, the total came out to some number that was lower than expected. The sales clerk looked at the total and shrugged, “it says it’s on sale so I guess it is.”

This little episode got me thinking about the reverse case. If you’ve ever taken an HCI class, you’ll likely have encountered either a power plant or aircraft failure case study. In the majority of these studies, somewhere along the way is an operator not believing the computer. “My fuel is dropping much faster than I’d expect, it must be a faulty gauge”.

How is it that, in one scenario, there is complete faith in the computer system’s validity and in the other, a complete lack of faith even in the face of potential disaster?

[1]: http://www.ok-cancel.com/comic/28.html “iFly”

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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?